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Psychology, People, and Music: Composing the Life of Veronica Gnaman

Walk into a room where Veronica Gnaman is speaking and you’ll know she’s there. “My voice is extremely loud a lot of times” laughs Veronica, psychology-major music-minor sophomore here at CMU. Powerful voice and eyes twinkling on her French-African and Haitian-heritage features, Veronica is well known by her outgoing attitude and caring demeanor. Out of her many interests she pinpoints three that she feels are most important to her here at Carnegie Mellon: psychology, music and people.

When asked about the reason behind her choice in major, Veronica replies that her passion in psychology stems from an influence from her mother. “My mother was a biology major in college and because of that she ended up taking a lot of psych courses; she would always bring up different experiments and reasoning to me, which led to my desire to study in a formal setting.” And now with classes already passing the mid-term mark, Veronica is glad to be exploring more of her academic passions. “I’m happy to be going into the depths of my major.”

Beyond her academics, Veronica cannot be separated from her love of music. She has been playing the violin since the 4th grade, having studied at the New England Conservatory of Music preparatory school in Boston. Time spent in practice rooms and orchestra halls finally culminated during a concert in what Veronica describes as her favorite memory. “I played the last movement finale of Mahler’s First Symphony during our all-state music conference in high school. It was an emotional experience, and so rewarding. Within the music of the finale there were not-musically beautiful areas that are small and wispy; but then they grow into these grand moments. I like to think my life like the piece: when things aren’t going well I’m at the wispy parts…but something good will come out of it.”

Music was also a major factor in deciding college, but it seems wasn’t the only passion on Veronica’s mind. “My sister went to NYU, I went to precollege at NYU, I was on that NYU path. When I came to CMU to visit, there was a charm about it that I liked, and I liked how I could pursue music at a very high level while pursuing my academic interests. At NYU I would’ve only been a violin performance major.” Allowing for her academic pursuits in Psychology while still allowing for a high degree of music performance was the cinch that made Veronica decide on CMU. And now here, Veronica has recently joined the Baroque Orchestra ensemble to continue her passion for music.

Her focus in majors and pursuits isn’t the only thing starting to change. “Before I came to college I was like, I know what I like, my rap and hip-hop, and classical, which sometimes clash with each other” says Veronica. “But being here, my friends introduced my to more alternative and indie music; I have The Avett Brothers CD that just came out and I’m so excited for the Mumford and Sons CD coming out soon. I’m becoming more and more open to things I thought I would never like.”

In addition to music Veronica has passions in interacting with and helping people. From being a pre-college counselor this past summer to an RA this year, Veronica is stepping up her game in serving her underclassmen. “I do love working with younger students; I think that a lot of people don’t understand how much of a influence you can have by just being someone who cares about and is genuinely interested in them…there’s a strong connection there.”

Veronica’s interest in helping people was stirred from her experience interning at the Cambridge public school system’s English Second Language program. Watching her aunt, an English teacher working with ESL students, and the effects she had on the students made a big impression on Veronica. “Seeing her work with students and seeing the direct result of her influence in how much her students appreciated her, and how close I got to those students, really made an impact to me,” says Veronica, “especially because I genuinely care about people.”

And to top it off, Veronica also spends a large portion of her time and energy in Lambda Sigma, a service and honor society for sophomores. She is currently officer of Selections Chair as well as team leader in charge of public/alumni relations. “It definitely takes a lot of work,” she says.

With academics, music, service, people and more, it seems that Veronica is running on a constant engine. How does she manage to be to be so outgoing and active? “I am—I can be outgoing, but to recharge and to make sure that I’m exuding good and positive energy, I do need to have time to be alone,” says Veronica. “One of my best friends is very talented and can play the guitar, and she has been teaching me since last year…It’s a brand new thing, and different, and I love doing it.” 

Blog: joshmchang.com Photos: joshmcphotos.wordpress.com
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